- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Juneau Police Department is having fun with its new Facebook page, posting old pictures of officers in uniform for #throwbackthursday, a video of their Ice Bucket Challenge, as well as informational items such as PSA’s for the upcoming vehicle auction and regular Crime of the Week.

There’s also a photograph of JPD’s evidence room manager and an evidence room technician posing with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Sarah Palin.

“JPD fun fact,” the Facebook post reads, “The JPD evidence room handles 4,327 items of evidence each year, from drugs to guns to cardboard cut outs, JPD has a place for it all.”

Poster Palin is sporting her signature pulled back hairdo, wearing rimless glasses, rain gear and Xtratuf boots and holding a fish she presumably caught.

It begged the obvious question: What is that doing in JPD evidence?

Turns out the Facebook picture JPD posted is an old photograph, but yes, the celebrity cardboard cut-out was once part of a police investigation, JPD spokeswoman Erann Kalwara said.

The Palin poster belonged to the Alaska Shirt company and was placed outside its Franklin Street storefront across from the Mount Roberts Tramway entrance. Tourists loved taking their picture with it. Locals, however, loved stealing it.

Back in July 2011, a group of four 20-year-old women took the cardboard cut-out from the storefront and drove away with it in their SUV. An employee witnessed them drive away and called police, who - according to Kalwara - had to do a lot of leg work to find it.

To the girls, it was just a prank. But to the company and police, it was a criminal act. The cardboard cut-out was valued at a whopping $1,400. (How’s that for a fun fact?)

Police tracked the Palin Poster down, and the gaggle of girls realized they might be in trouble and turned it over. Kalwara said it was still in the SUV when the police officer located it.

“They didn’t think it was going to turn into this big hoo-ha-ha,” Kalwara said. “They took it as a joke and drove it around town. When they found out it was criminal, they gave it back.”

Kalwara wasn’t certain how the case turned out. She thinks prosecutors declined to prosecute some of the women but prosecuted others. She said at least one girl was convicted of fifth-degree criminal mischief for tampering with property and got slapped with a $100 fine and unsupervised probation.

According to Empire archives, the theft wasn’t a one-time incident. It has been stolen a couple of times. After the aforementioned theft, the Alaska Shirt Company took action and chained the poster to the entrance of their store.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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